NREGA racket Chhattisgarh suspends officials

By Alok Prakash Putul
Published: Sunday 30 September 2007

a mutli-crore scam in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (nrega) recently came to light in Chhattisgarh's Naxal-affected Kanker district. The state government has suspended K P Dewangan, chief executive officer (ceo) of Kanker Janpad panchayat on August 4 and transferred Kanker district collector G S Dhananjay, both allegedly involved in the scam. The matter is being investigated by P C Mishra, state commissioner of nrega.

Primary investigation revealed that agricultural instruments, fertilisers and pesticides worth Rs 6 crore were purchased and distributed among labourers under nrega. It was found that the pesticides were purchased at a price 10-times higher than the actual price. The purchases used up 60 per cent of the funds meant for wages of labourers.Pesticides and agro-instruments purchased in the guise of 'levelling of land' work have not been distributed in the state's interior Naxal-affected regions. It has also been alleged that stationery in excessive quantity has been purchased for a few panchayat members.

Several organisations had complained about the irregularities. "We have been protesting for long. We complained to the collector four months ago, but nothing was done. I suppose the collector is also involved in the case," said Sanjay Parate, coordinator of the Kisan Sabha and a cpi (m) leader of Bastar district.

After widespread protests, the state ordered an investigation. After suspension of the ceo, the cashier of the district panchayat Neeraj Mishra lodged an fir against the ceo. "The officers were so eager to release the wage fund to pesticide suppliers that they issued cheques without intimating me and without my signatures," said Mishra.

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